Beyton: Flock of support after ‘goosegate’

Geese on Beyton village green.

Geese on Beyton village green. - Credit: Archant

A bumper turnout at a beleaguered parish council’s meeting showed that Beyton “values democracy” in the wake of “goosegate”.

The meeting, held on Monday by Beyton Parish Council, was the first since four members announced their resignation following a villager’s attempt to film the proceedings.

The council chairman, Roger Wyartt, also said he was going to resign but has since reversed that decision.

Had he resigned Mid Suffolk District Council would have been forced to intervene and use emergency powers.

There has been a long-standing row over geese on the village green – dubbed “goosegate” by some villagers.

It boiled over on September 8 when local campaigner Sandy Maynard, who believes the green is inappropriate for the geese, attempted to film a parish council meeting – which is now allowed under a new law.

Members felt that this was harassment and the meeting was cancelled.

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Opening this week’s meeting, which was moved to the hall at Thurston Sixth Form Centre, in Beyton, Mr Wyartt said: “Before I open this meeting I must say that we have a very unusual situation in that we must allow filming and recording of our meetings.”

He added: “There is still a problem in that our standing orders, recently re-adopted, specifically prohibit such recordings, but we have been instructed to disregard that section of the standing orders, making a mockery of the law governing our meetings.”

The meeting was kept to a limited agenda, with no mention of the geese in sight, and public questions were banned.

Mr Wyartt explained that this was not how he wanted to serve the parish, but that they were advised to do this in order to “avoid controversy” and another cancelled meeting.

The three councillors who resigned, Jack Maydom, Colin Kennedy and Ed Bacon, were also thanked for their service while new addition Adelle Pope was co-opted at the meeting

During a short public forum, a few residents stood to express their support for the council to the receipt of loud applause from the majority.

Villager Andy Rollett, 62, of Bury Road, said: “When I heard that the parish council might have to be taken over, me and a few others got together and emailed everyone to let them know what was happening.

“We told them to turn up today and show the parish council that we do value them and the work they do.

“They are volunteers who don’t get into it with an agenda – they do it out of civic duty.”

Mr Wyartt said he was shocked by the amount that turned up, and said it was a sign Beyton “values democracy”.

Former parish council chair Jon Rapley did not support the council’s stance. He said: “The houses of Parliament have been televised for almost 20 or 30 years.

“I don’t see a lot of difference between taking notes and writing a letter to the newspaper and recording a meeting with a camera.”

Ms Maynard, who lives in the middle of the green, was present and filming the meeting.

She said: “It is great to see so many people turn up, you never usually get this many.

“I am very worried about the amount of people who do not support the filming of meetings though, I can’t understand why.”